Member companies of the Bartell Theatre hope to raise some money and raise their artistic standards this summer - by patting themselves on the back.
The first Bartell Theatre Awards will be held July 10. Dubbed "the Barties," the public gala will look back over the 2009-10 season and celebrate the best of the best in an awards ceremony.
"The Barties will be a flashy, fun and festive event where the public can mingle with the Madison theater personalities they have come to know and love," says Sarah Hoover, Bartell managing director. "You'll have a chance to dress up, enjoy the wit and comedy of our emcees, and have a great time."
The Bartell facility is governed and shared by member companies including Laboratory Theatre, Madison Theatre Guild, Mercury Players Theatre, StageQ and Strollers Theatre.
Besides being a good time, the awards from their inception have also had a serious side.
"Our development committee sat down and brainstormed some ideas that both met our mission - to bring our member companies closer together and improve their product - and also make some money," says Hoover. The event is a benefit for the theater facility, and the $25 ticket cost is tax-deductible.
The categories are playful and eclectic. They include Best Actor or Actress and Most Memorable Costume and Lighting Designs, but also Best Stage Kiss, Biggest Tear-Jerking Moment, Biggest Belly-Laugh Moment and Best Portrayal of a Non-Homo-Sapien.
Categories were solicited on the Bartell's Facebook page. "We had a lot of good suggestions," says Hoover. "My personal favorite was Fight Most Likely to Put an Eye Out, but that got voted down. There will also be a few awards for our favorite donors and volunteers."
Black tie is encouraged, and there will be a red carpet reception with hors d'oeuvres, faux paparazzi and a fashion commentator.
There are six judges, including George Gonzalez, producing director of the Bricks Theatre. Most are drawn from outside the Bartell.
"We really wanted to get a community perspective on this," says Hoover. Nominations are expected to be announced in late June in a ceremony at the High Noon Saloon.
If the awards ceremony goes well and becomes an annual event, Hoover says, "we hope in the next couple of years to celebrate a bigger community." That is, the Barties could be expanded to include all of Madison theater.